PSAT Writing : Identifying Sentence Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Liam told his study group that "he needed to take a break from studying," so the group's members all decided to get sandwiches before beginning to take notes on the textbook's next chapter. No error

Possible Answers:

the group's members

"he needed to take a break from studying,"

No error

the textbook's

before beginning to take notes on

Correct answer:

"he needed to take a break from studying,"

Explanation:

This sentence incorrectly uses quotation marks to set off an indirect quotation from the sentence when no quotation marks are needed. If the sentence said "Liam told his study group, 'I need to take a break from studying,'" then quotation marks would be necessary. However, because the sentence is indirectly telling us what Liam said, and not giving us his exact words, no quotation marks are needed.  Removing the quotation marks around "he needed to take a break from studying" would correct the sentence's error.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

"Help me lift this", she whispered, knowing the request would be her last if she were overheard. No error

Possible Answers:

would be

No error

me

were

this", she

Correct answer:

this", she

Explanation:

Punctuation always goes inside the quotation marks in American English.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Other Punctuation

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Is vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry your favorite flavor of ice cream, or do you prefer another flavor. No error

Possible Answers:

do you prefer

your favorite flavor of ice cream

vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry

No error

another flavor.

Correct answer:

another flavor.

Explanation:

The issue here has to do with punctuation. This sentence needs to end with a question mark because it is a question. The corrected sentence reads, "Is vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry your favorite flavor of ice cream, or do you prefer another flavor?"

Example Question #1 : Identifying Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

How did Bosco the chihuahua get her name. The story begins with an act of heroism, a great surprise, and a feast of tamales. No error

Possible Answers:

tamales.

The

No error

, and

name. 

Correct answer:

name. 

Explanation:

"How did Bosco the chihuahua get her name?" is a rhetorical question and must be punctuated with a question mark. The rest of the sentence is correct as written.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The movement to build a community garden in the empty lot was slowly gaining momentum, and Mrs. Higgins was already excitedly asking nurseries to donate plants. No error.

Possible Answers:

in the empty lot

excitedly

No error.

to build

was

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! The verb “to build” is correct in the infinitive, “in the empty lot” is an appropriate prepositional phrase, “was” is a verb in the correct tense, and “excitedly” is an adverb that modifies a verb. 

Example Question #2 : Identifying Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The bright red of a matador’s cape does not incite bulls to charge; cattle do not perceive red as a bright colorNo error.

Possible Answers:

perceive

does not incite

No error.

as a bright color

bright red

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! “Bright red” works here as a noun, “does not incite” is a verb that matches its subject, “perceive” is a verb that is correctly formed, and “as a bright color” is an appropriate prepositional phrase.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Other Errors Or No Error

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The general blatantly ignored the lessons of history and commanded his army to invade Russia in the winterNo error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

in the winter

to invade

and commanded

blatantly

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! “Blatantly” is an adverb that modifies a verb, “and commanded” uses parallel structure, “to invade” is correct as an infinitive, and “in the winter” is a correctly formed prepositional phrase.

Example Question #1 : Identifying No Error Questions

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

As globalizing forces reach out to remote corners of the globe, some worry that we will become a homogenous universal culture. No error.

Possible Answers:

some

globalizing

will become

reach out to 

No error.

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! “Globalizing” can be used as an adjective, “reach out to” uses the correct prepositions following the verb, “some” is an appropriate pronoun, and “will become” correctly uses future tense.

Example Question #1 : Identifying No Error Questions

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The first landing of a man on the moon, a feat that many people considered impossible, was a historical highlight of the 1960s. No error. 

Possible Answers:

that

first landing

No error.

historical

considered impossible

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! “First landing” is an appropriate adjective-noun combination, “that” is the correct relative pronoun, “considered impossible” is an appropriate verb-adjective combination, and “historical” is an adjective that correctly modifies a noun.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

A born performer, Maria would much rather sing and dance on stage all day than work in her isolated cubicleNo error.

Possible Answers:

on stage

would

No error.

A born performer

than work in her isolated cubicle

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! “A born performer” is a correctly placed phrase modifying “Maria,” “would” is appropriate use of the conditional voice, “on stage” is the correct idiom, and “than work in her isolated cubicle” is a correctly-formed comparison.

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